All Articles For Taking Heed to the Doctrine

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Previous article in this series: May 15, 2021, p. 375. True faith distinguished from wicked presumption Although assurance is of the essence of faith, the faith of God’s people is an imperfect faith. Their faith is often mixed with unbelief. Although strong at times, there are other times when faith is weak. Mingled with true faith are doubts and fears. Besides the mountain tops of faith, there are also the deep, dark valleys. In His infinite goodness, God stoops to the weakness of our faith. With a view to the assurance of faith, God in various ways and by various...

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Previous article in this series: April 15, 2021, p. 327. The testimony of the gospels The obedience of Christ comprehends the totality of the Father’s will as it was perfectly performed by Christ, the Servant of Jehovah, during His vicarious life on earth. Last time we demonstrated that the Scriptures and Reformed confessions teach that Christ’s perfect, lifelong obedience is imputed to our account in justification as our righteousness before God. Romans 5:19 teaches, “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” Even as many are reckoned...

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Previous article in this series: January 15, 2021, p. 182. Stooping to our weakness “Calvinist believers who struggle with their assurance can never know with certainty that they are one of the elect.” So writes Jerry L. Walls in Why I Am Not a Calvinist.1 The charge is as old as Arminianism. It was an objection voiced by the Arminians (Remonstrants) prior to the Synod of Dordt. In reality, the opposite is true. It is the teaching of Arminianism that strips believers of comfort. This heresy maintains that Christ died for every human being without exception. Despite a death of...

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What justification is When God justifies the guilty, elect sinner by imputing to him the righteousness of Christ, He not only subtracts something from the sinner’s account but He also adds to it. The Reformed faith teaches that in the act of justification God executes a kind of legal subtraction in clearing the sinner’s account of all his guilt. God pardons the sinner by canceling all his debts and declaring, “I forgive you. It is as if you never had had nor committed any sin” (cf. Heidelberg Catechism, LD 23). In the one act of justification, God also executes a...

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Previous article in this series: December 1, 2020, p. 106. Our last two articles served as an interlude of sorts in which we demonstrated that the doctrine of justification by faith alone does not minimize the importance of a holy life of good works. About this holy life we will have much more to say when in due time we take up a consideration of the relation between good works and sanctification. We concluded last time by affirming the teaching of the Heidelberg Catechism that the believer’s good works serve as confirming evidence to him that his faith is genuine...

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Previous article in this series: October 15, 2020, p. 36.   Assurance of the essence of faith Assurance is of the essence of faith. This is the historic and confessionally Reformed view of assurance, as it is the teaching of Scripture. The Heidelberg Catechism teaches that assurance is of the essence of faith in its classic description of faith in Lord’s Day 7, Q&A 21. There the Heidelberg Catechism describes faith as both knowledge and confidence. Confidence is just another word for assurance. Although faith is knowledge and confidence, it may be said that of the two elements of faith,...

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We have been observing the publican of Jesus’ parable in Luke 18:14 who went down to his house justified. This man represents every justified believer. The justified believer walks home in the way of or on the path of obedience, and on this path of obedience he enjoys walking in communion with God his Friend. We now turn our focus to another closely related element of the justified believer’s walk: his assurance of salvation. Assurance of salvation Assurance is the believer’s conscious certainty of heart that Jehovah God, who loves and saves sinners, loves and saves him. Assurance is always...

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Assurance belongs to salvation In the goodness of His grace, God not only saves His people; He also gives them the assurance of their salvation. Theoretically, God could have saved us but not given us the assurance of our salvation. Throughout our lives we would, at best, be left to wonder whether we were saved. At worst, we would be assailed by constant doubts and fears concerning our salvation. Then, although God has elected us, we could not in this life know with certainty that we are among the number of God’s elect. Then, although Christ has redeemed us, we...

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Previous article in this series: August, 2020, p. 446.   We have strongly insisted that justification is by faith alone and thus excludes all good works of the believer. This same strong insistence by the notable Reformers of the sixteenth century was always met with the charge that their doctrine militates against a holy life of good works, jeopardizes true religion, and if it does not expressly teach, it strongly suggests, that a believer can walk in sweet peace with his God no matter how loose, offensive, or vile his life. When faithfully taught, the doctrine of justification by faith...

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Over against the Reformed believer’s confession of the infallibility of Scripture, it is often alleged that the Bible contains contradictions. The line of argument of these critics is that since there are contradictions in the Bible, it cannot be the Word of God—the Word of God in the words of men. The response of the Reformed Christian must be to insist that there are no real contradictions in Scripture, but only apparent contradictions. This is the presupposition of faith. There may be discrepancies in the Bible, but there is always an explanation for these discrepancies. As the Word of God,...

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